Congress

Alexander hails passage of bill to preserve civil rights history sites

Press release from Sen. Lamar Alexander

NASHVILLE, December 22, 2017 – U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today said the Senate has sent President Trump legislation to be signed into law that will recognize and connect important landmarks of the Civil Rights Movement, including two potential sites in Memphis. Alexander said the legislation will preserve history for the next generation.

Continue reading

Alexander gives up on Obamacare premium fix — until February or so

Joint press release from Sens. Lamar Alexander and  Susan Collins

WASHINGTON, December 20, 2017—United States Senators Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) today jointly released the following statement:

“Rather than considering a broad year-end funding agreement as we expected, it has become clear that Congress will only be able to pass another short-term extension to prevent a government shutdown and to continue a few essential programs,” said the Senators.  “For this reason, we have asked Senator McConnell not to offer this week our legislation which independent analysts Avalere and Oliver-Wyman say would reduce premiums by about 20 percent for the 9 million Americans who have no government subsidies to help them buy insurance in the individual market. Instead, we will offer it after the first of the year when the Senate will consider the omnibus spending bill, the Children’s Health Insurance Program reauthorization, funding for Community Health Centers, and other legislation that was to have been enacted this week.

Continue reading

On the ‘Hush Fund Elimination Act” and an age discrimination lawsuit against Duncan

While  co-sponsoring the “Congressional Accountability and Hush Fund Elimination Act” and enthusiastically supporting its provisions dealing with sexual harassment, the Nashville Post reports that U.S. Reps. Diane Black and Marsha Blackburn are vague on whether it should apply to settlements of other legal claims – such as a payment settling an age discrimination lawsuit brought by one of Rep. John J. “Jimmy” Duncan’s staffers.

Continue reading

On the ‘testy’ exchange between Corker and Wolf Blitzer on tax bill

Excerpt from The Hill’s report on a “testy” exchange between Tennessee U.S. Sen. Bob Corker and CNN reporter Wolf Blitzer:

“I know I am being maligned,” Corker told Blitzer on Tuesday. “It’s just malicious.”

Continue reading

Hatch ‘disgusted’ with Corker kickback claims

As the U.S. Senate prepared for a vote on federal tax overhaul legislation, Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker’s shift from no to yes “swirled into a political firestorm,” according to Politico. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch on Tuesday sent Corker a letter basically declaring there was no “Corker kickback” – a label some have been using.

Continue reading

Corker surprised by special tax cut for his commercial real estate business

The latest version of the federal tax bill that Congress is expected to approve this week includes a provision that U.S. Sen. Bob Corker says caught him by surprise. It’s a tax break that would benefit persons with large commercial real estate holdings – such as Corker – and the senator has asked for an explanation.

Excerpt from a letter the Tennessee Republican sent Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, on Sunday, as reported by Bloomberg News.

Continue reading

Corker flips — will vote for GOP tax bill after all

Press release from Sen. Bob Corker

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. – U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) today announced his support for the tax reform legislation developed by members of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Conference Committee.

Continue reading

Black says she was sexually harassed as a state legislator

U.S. Rep. Diane Black, now a candidate for governor, says in a column written for Townhall that she suffered episodes of sexual harassment from “the good ol’ boy culture” while a state legislator years ago.

Continue reading

Kustoff invited to White House Hanukkah Party; Cohen (and other Jewish Democrats) snubbed

President Donald Trump invited the two Republicans members of Congress who are Jewish – Tennessee’s Rep.  David Kustoff and New York Rep. Lee Zeldin – to the White House Hanukkah Party but excluded Jewish Democrats including Tennessee’s Rep. Steve Cohen, reports the New York Times. That was break with tradition, which under past presidents has made the gathering non-partisan.

Continue reading

Haslam: GOP tax bill will bring more immigration to TN from other states

Gov. Bill Haslam says more people from states such as New York,  New Jersey and California are likely to move to Tennessee with enactment of a Republican federal tax package that eliminates current deductions for payment of state and local taxes, reports the Murfreesboro Daily News Journal.

As Haslam explains it, those living in states with higher tax rates currently see a greater federal tax deduction. Residents in Tennessee, a low-tax state, don’t benefit as much from the state and local tax deduction.

“That changes now,” Haslam said, speaking Monday at Nissan’s Smyrna plant. “A lot of people who live in states with income tax of 10 or 12 percent start going, ‘Huh, well, only having to pay half is not such a bad deal, but if I’m having to pay all of it, maybe I’d be better off in Tennessee.’ We think it actually will encourage both investment growth and population growth in Tennessee.”

William Fox, an economist at University of Tennessee Knoxville, said research shows  tax rates can affect where people leave, but the impact is small. And there are several caveats to keep in mind with that calculation. Taxes pay for services, so when changing residences, an individual may also be giving up tax-funded services they enjoy.

“There is a small impact of taxes on where people live,” Fox said. “With the elimination of the deductibility, you make it more expensive to live in high-tax states.”

Another point to keep in mind, Fox said, is that the elimination of state and local tax deductions only affects those who itemize tax returns. Thirty percent of taxpayers itemized deductions in 2014, according to the Tax Policy Center. For those individuals, ending the state and local tax deduction would make Tennessee more attractive, he said.